A Retro Modern Ride For The Newcomer With A Twist
A Scrambler? What the heck is a Scrambler? I can’t fault you for asking this question, many of those riding them struggle to fully articulate it. Let’s try sharing what it isn’t, definitely not a crotch rocket or a cruiser. How about an adventure bike? No, not really, and calling it a naked bike isn’t quite hitting the mark either.
For me, Scramblers pull excellent attributes from all segments and blend them up into one very cool package. There is plenty of history talking about how bikers of yore, cobbled together all manner of parts on a quest to find a durable and capable machine for racing between two points via whatever path they chose. It needed to handle both dirt and pavement with reasonable confidence. The modern Scrambler is much more an homage to that look, in a package that is happy on pavement and light off-highway sprints. Think gravel, dirt roads, and not full dirt bike areas.
Ducati has built some killer machines for this style of bike and uses the Scrambler moniker to share the vibe they went after. Follow along with me while I explain why a Ducati Scrambler may work for a new rider.
Our Take: Why You Should Buy a Ducati Scrambler
Ducati was making Scramblers back in the ’60s and ‘70s with engines ranging from 125cc to 450cc, this article will not be about those classics–but this article touches upon these older models. They are awesome and NOT for the new rider, if you wrecked one vintage enthusiasts may put a bounty on your head. I am sharing my thoughts on the current Ducati 800cc Scramblers that went into production in 2015.
The Scrambler has been designed to be a great all arounder, quite the task in the motorcycle universe. On-road capable but certainly no cruiser, and off-road capable but not a dirt bike. Ducati offers the Scramble in multiple 800cc configurations varying from a Cafe Racer style to the more off-road capable Desert Sled.
Powered by an 803cc air-cooled L-Twin producing 73 horsepower and 49 pound-feet of torque, all versions get ABS brakes, but that’s it for rider aids. All the 800cc models use Brembo calipers with a 330mm Single Disc upfront and a 245mm disc in the rear. The Pirelli MT60rs tire is used on many of the models, providing a great riding experience both on pavement, and out on the trail.
The Desert Sled models get a more aggressive knobby tire, increased suspension travel, and a different rear swingarm to take everything up a level when off-road. The Cafe model takes things in the opposite direction, with clip-ons in place of standard handlebars, and Pirelli Diablo Rosso tires. Clearly, the Cafe takes the Scrambler in a road race direction.
What does all this mean to a new rider? It means you can ride a premium brand bike, dripping with style and quality. A bike with an engine that is smooth and not at all intimidating. The whole vibe of the Scrambler allows you to explore both on-road fun, and take that ride down the dirt trail. The riding position is upright and relaxed, the 790mm average seat height makes it easy for even the vertically limited to set your feet flat on the ground.
Bottom line: The Ducati Scrambler is an amazing, versatile motorcycle. The engine is smooth and refined, and the overall build quality is very good across the range. The Ducati Scrambler bikes allow new riders the chance to enjoy both the street and the trail.
Reasons to buy the Ducati Scrambler:
- 73 hp may seem like a lot but it is smooth and easy to control
- Quality brakes with standard ABS
- Multiple models of the Scrambler ensure you can find a style that’s “you”
- The seat height fits a wide range of inseam sizes to get feet flat on the ground
- You can ride on the street and the trail easily
- It’s Italian! It’s a Ducati!
Reasons not to buy the Ducati Scrambler:
- The cost of a Ducati tends to be higher than most brands
- Depending on where you live, service can be harder to find
Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes
Production Run & Model Generations
Ducati brought the Scrambler moniker back to production in 2014. Here is a listing of the various models available.
Scrambler Icon (2014 -)
- The Scrambler Icon is styled after the Scramblers of old, but fit with modern tech
- Available in Yellow, Ducati Red, and then later also Orange
- 2020 introduced the Icon Dark with Matte Black finishes and a dark theme
Urban Enduro (2014-2020)
- Higher set handlebars
- Grill over the headlight
- Wire Spoke Rims
Full Throttle (2014-)
- The Full Throttle is an homage to the Flat Tracker style
- Trick dual exhaust
- The sport seat and the rear fender have been removed
- An alternate version called Flat Track Pro was offered in 2016
Cafe Racer (2014-)
- Classic Cafe looks
- Clip-on handlebars
- Solo seat and performance street rubber
- Like the Icon, it pays tribute to the vintage Scramblers
- Wire Spoke wheels
- Great looking brown seat
Desert Sled (2017-)
- Meant for more off-road than on, you can take jumps with confidence
- Increased suspension travel (7.9 inches)
- The swingarm is reinforced and longer than the unit on base-model Scramblers
- Frame and engine junctions reinforced
- 19” Front Wheel
In 2019 all models received updated ABS systems to included Corning ABS
In 2021 the new Scrambler models are now Euro 5 compliant.
Owner Reviews of the Ducati Scrambler
Press & Magazines
Why the Ducati Scrambler is the bike for you
“I have a theory. I think the Ducati Scrambler might be the best motorcycle available right now.”
— Sean MacDonald Jun 10, 2015 – RevZilla
The 2017 Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer Is Everything You Want Out Of A Cafe Racer, Almost
“Ducati nailed its goal of creating an attractive café racer from its Scrambler Ducati brand. The stock version falls nicely in line with all of the custom ones being built, and it makes nice use of the motor and existing lines of the bike.
That said, the bike does take some of the “racer” bits a little too serious.”
— Sean MacDonald April 19, 2017 – Cycle World
Ducati Scrambler Icon vs. Triumph Scrambler Comparison Review
“It was rock solid and leans a long, long way before a footpeg will touch the road. Its ride is much firmer and more precise than the Triumph’s but was nonetheless comfortable and not harsh.”
– Mark Hoyer, April 20, 2015 – Cycle World
What Owners Like
- It’s just a really fun bike.
- The riding position and the suspension feel spot on.
- So many choices of models. Always feels like you are riding a one-of-a-kind bike.
- The 803cc air-cooled twin sounds good and has a smooth power delivery.
- Switching off the ABS on the Desert Sled is useful.
What Owners Complain About
- The seat is really uncomfortable after about 2 hours.
- Air-cooled engines are hot in summer traffic.
- In 2016, Ducati mechanics began seeing issues with clutch plates failing.
The Bottom Line
A Ducati Scrambler is a great-looking, non-intimidating bike to both learn on, and grow with. Ducati built a great-looking platform and offered it in enough variations that it feels like you have a custom bike. Ducati made sure to adorn the Scrambler series with quality parts, and it is evident that great attention to detail has been paid to each variation.
The 800cc air-cooled twin offers smooth and linear building power bands. The Scrambler riding position feels instantly comfortable and allows the focus to remain on learn clutch and throttle control. On paper, the 800cc’s 73 HP might seem like a lot, but the Scrambler is easy to manage at low RPM and doesn’t balk at short shifting. As your skills grow, so will the smiles, Scramblers respond well to energetic riding.
Find a model that fits your style, tighten your chin strap and get ready for a great ride.
Ducati Scrambler Competitors
If you’re looking at a Scrambler, you may also want to check out:
Ducati Scrambler Specifications
The important specs are listed below. See the Wikipedia page for more detailed specifications.
|Engine||803 cc L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air-cooled|
|Top speed||Est. 185 km/h (115 mph)|
|Power||73 hp (54 kW) 8250 rpm|
|Torque||49 lb-ft (67 Nm) @ 5750 rpm)|
F: Upside down Kayaba 41 mm fork
R: Kayaba rear shock, pre-load adjustable
F: Single 330 mm disc, with ABS
R: 245 mm disc, with ABS
F: 110/80 R18 Pirelli MT 60 RS
R: 180/55 R17 Pirelli MT 60 RS
L: 2100 – 2165 mm (82.7 – 85.2 in)
W: 855 mm (33.7 in)
H: 1150 mm (45.3 in)
|Seat height||798 mm (31.4 in) – low seat 778 mm (30.6 in)|
Dry: 173 kg (381 lbs)
Wet: 189 kg (417 lb)
|Fuel capacity||13.5 l – 3.57 gallon (US)|
|Fuel consumption||44.7 mpg (5.26 L/100 km)|